You are almost to the finish line of your college education. You have worked hard, sacrificed and may have incurred significant debt. You are ready to launch your career and get a job. Your family and everyone you speak to is asking what you are going to do and if you have a plan and job yet. If you are planning to attend graduate school, there are many advantages to working before you begin graduate or professional school (see out past blog post on The Importance of Paid Work Experience Before Graduate School). The challenge is landing that first job out of college. Particularly in the health field where advanced degrees are often required for entry or to be competitive for most jobs.
The good news is that there are an increasing number of jobs in the health field for people with a bachelor’s degree. More health employers are recognizing the talent, motivation and skills that college graduates offer. Particularly in emerging new team based models of care, population health and research. Also in growing fields like health IT, consulting, health management and behavioral health.
There are also growing numbers of one or two year fellowship, corps or training programs that provide excellent career and life experiences. Examples of these programs can be found in our blog How to get experience before graduate school. Internship programs can also provide valuable exposure and experience and get your foot in the door for a potential job. See our map of internships as a way to find out more.
While the job search can be scary and daunting, it can also lead to great opportunity. A way to minimize the pressure to pick the perfect job is to just focus on making a decision about a solid next step to help advance toward or refine your direction. Even if your first job isn’t exactly related to your future health career, you can still gain a lot of valuable experience that will inform your career and educational choices and be attractive to future employers and graduate admissions committees.
Listed below are some examples of great first jobs for people with a bachelors degree and where to find them. These are just a sample. MyHCN will be developing a repository of examples and will be posting an increasing number of them. To help provide more opportunity for all of us
Great Health Jobs That Only Require a Bachelor’s Degree
1) Program Coordinator
As a program coordinator, you will often work under a program director and carry out a variety of administrative duties while working with a wide range of healthcare providers, administrators, students and, possibly, patients. You will often schedule meetings and appointments, write agendas and take meeting minutes, write reports and newsletters, assist with travel arrangements, prepare a variety of material for the program, and organize databases and documents. If you work for a medical school, you will often work on medical student or residency programs, and perhaps research studies. This is a great first job to work towards a career as a healthcare administrator, or to gain exposure to medical education programs or research if you are interested in medical, law or graduate school. For job specifics, look at program coordinator jobs at medical centers or healthcare organizations you are interested in.
2) Medical Administrative Assistant/Administrative Assistant
An administrative assistant is similar to a program coordinator, but will often work more extensively with patients, researchers and healthcare providers. As an administrative assistant, you may find yourself performing data entry, obtaining patient information in person or through medical records, assisting with research projects, and scheduling appointments along with many of the responsibilities listed under program coordinator. Administrative assistant positions have a wide variety of responsibilities based on what department they work in, so you will want to look at the specifics of each job listing to see if it fits in with your skills and interests.
You can also be an administrative assistant for an executive or department in a health organization. You will gain exposure and experience with how leaders and organizations function and get things done. It can also be a stepping stone to advancement to other roles within the organization with mentors who can assist you. It can also be a great role through which to secure a letter of recommendation from a high level person.
3) Research Assistant (RA)
An RA will perform a broad range of tasks depending on the research that is being performed where you work. RAs can do anything from data entry and administrative work, to performing laboratory assays and working directly with patients. When looking at RA jobs, consider the interests and skills you have and search within departments that fit your skillset and interest. Did you perform research at some level in undergrad? You probably have many of the skills needed to work in the same capacity at a company or academic medical institution. RA work can help you assess whether you want to pursue research as a career path and advance your knowledge and experience in an area you are passionate about. It can also be a great way to build valuable relationships with leaders in the field and secure a strong letter of recommendation.
4) Clinical Research Analyst
As a clinical research analyst, you will be a major part of clinical or other kinds of medical research studies and will work closely with an eclectic group of researchers and providers to carry out a research question. You may need to collect and manage data, inventories, patient and study information and protocol information. You may also manage some financial and administrative duties. You will often act as a liaison between different providers, patients and departments. Performing research and other administrative duties in your undergraduate career will often make you well equipped to get a job as a research analyst.
5) Clinical Research Coordinator (CRC) or Assistant Clinical Research Coordinator (ACRC)
CRCs may responsible for recruiting and communicating with patients, performing non-invasive medical exams for the study, ensuring that studies are performed in compliance to rules and regulations, setting budgets, obtaining funding, and overseeing the work of other individuals conducting the study overall. If you begin as an ACRC, there is usually an opportunity to be promoted to a CRC after about a year, but be sure to ask about the possibility of promotion during your job interview (it will reflect well on you, demonstrating that you are motivated and willing to grow professionally). These are excellent jobs if you are interested in graduate or medical school.
6) Patient Navigator or Health/Wellness Coach
Patient Navigators work in a variety of healthcare settings to help patients overcome possible barriers to care as they move through the healthcare system. This career is becoming increasingly in demand as a result of the Affordable Care Act and the movements toward team based care and care coordination. As a patient navigator, you may schedule appointments and ensure that care is provided in a timely manner, arrange for translation and transportation services, helping with paperwork and finances and ensure that there is open and regular communication with all parties involved in the care of the patient. Health coaches may perform some of the duties above while also helping patients develop a better knowledge base regarding their conditions and their health goals and to identify obstacles and challenges to achieving better heath for themselves and their families. Insert a link here with more information. Increasingly people with BA’s are being sought after for patient navigator and health coach roles in health systems, community health centers, medical groups and disease management companies. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4121958/)
7) Health Outreach Worker/Community Health Workers
Health Outreach/Community Health Workers work closely with and advocate for patients, families, communities, and health and social services institutions to increase access to resources such as essential social needs (housing, food, healthcare etc.). You may assist individuals and families with paperwork and finances, facilitate communication between multiple community, healthcare and governing institutions, and help these institutions be more culturally responsive in their interactions with the surrounding community. You may also monitor the health of patients, manage and collect data, generate reports on resources in the community and perform some administrative, research and financial work. (http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/health-sciences/blog/being-a-commu...)
Where to Look:
- Large Academic Medical Centers (UCSF, Stanford, Brigham and Women’s, NYU Langone Medical Center, Duke University Medical Center etc.)
These centers typically have many types of all the positions listed above in their hospitals, medical schools, research centers and affiliated clinics. They are large with many layers and also have many career related websites. There may be a separate website for the medical center (which usually has works catered to licensed health care providers) and for careers associated with medical schools (such as in administration and research). You will want to check both thoroughly and review positions to see if you meet the minimum requirements.
- Free/Community/Urban Clinics
- Large Healthcare Systems (Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, Dignity Health, Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Stanford Hospital and Clinics etc.)
-Public Health Departments
- Healthcare Consulting Companies (Triage Consulting etc.)
For more information and advice on getting and working in your first job, see our past blog posts below:
Tips and Advice for a Successful Interview:
On Starting Your Career:
Overcoming Your Networking Fears:
Mental Strength to Help Your Health Career:
Common Obstacles in Your Health Career Journey and How to Overcome them: